Obituary: Jock Hargrave Scott-Park, farmer, conservationist and piper

Jock Hargrave Scott-Park: Organic farmer and nutritionist who loved cycling, rowing and playing the bagpipes
Jock Hargrave Scott-Park: Organic farmer and nutritionist who loved cycling, rowing and playing the bagpipes
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Born: 21 July, 1930, in Rutherglen, Lanarkshire. Died 17 February, 2015, in Paisley, aged 84

Old Etonian Jock Scott-Park, who was a farmer at Gartocharn on Loch Lomondside and a ground breaking nutritionist, conservationist and piper, has died aged 84.

The son of Glasgow-based consultant radiologist, Stanley Douglas Scott-Park, and Meta Hargrave Wilson, he was born in Rutherglen.

Scott-Park was educated at the Glasgow Academy and Hurst Grange School for Boys in Stirling before going on to Eton College. He read agriculture at St John’s College Cambridge, and it was during these years that he met many people who were to become life-long friends.

It was also at this time that he discovered many interests which he pursued throughout his life.

He was introduced to rowing, his greatest passion, at Eton. He was instrumental in inspiring many others to take up the sport and as a result received a commendation from his house master.

When he went up to Cambridge he rowed for the Lady Margaret Boat Club (LMBC) in their second boat, which was a tremendous achievement, given that all of the first boat were Blues and rowed for Cambridge and England in the Tokyo Olympic Games. In those days, the LMBC had no fewer than 13 boats.

In 1950, Scott-Park rowed at Henley in the Lady’s Plate and, in 1951, he rowed in the Marlow Eight and achieved second place. In that same year, he also rowed in the “B” Four but had the misfortune to hit a punt and so lost to Leander.

In the 1951 Lent races, Scott-Park rowed for the Lady Margaret Boat Club’s first boat, where they started as Head of River but finished fourth. His Cambridge friends described him as “an outstanding oarsman”.

While at Eton he had become captain of sailing and it was there too that he first met Raymond Johnstone, head of the Glasgow investment company, Murray Johnstone, who later became a neighbour at Gartocharn and chairman of the Forestry Commission.

Sailing was a lifelong interest for Scott-Park, who loved the peace of sailing with the sound of water lapping on the hull. However, he rather despised noisy speed boats until recent summers when he enjoyed entertaining friends on speed boat trips around Loch Lomond with his grandson, Chris, at the helm.

The family have a photograph of Scott-Park in his deckchair with his cool shades on – at the helm of their work boat, heading for the pub on the island of Inchmurrin.

As a young man, he spent many summer holidays with his parents sailing up the west coast and would have his pipes at the ready as they entered or left an anchorage. He was a keen piper and, as Pipe Major, once led the Cambridge University pipe band on an Armistice Day parade.

At Eton, practising his pipes in the house was not always popular and his tutor eventually banished him to the Arches Bridge, about half a mile away from the college.

Scott-Park piped for the Reel & Strathspey Society at Cambridge and was also part of a Highland Dance demonstration team, performing the sword dance and Highland fling.

For many years he piped with the Glasgow Highland Club and the Royal Scottish Pipers. It gave him great pleasure to play at a ceilidh in Gartocharn with his son, David, and his two grandsons, Chris and Mark. It was fitting that the pipes David played at the funeral were the ones his father had at Cambridge.

Scott-Park was always proud to do things on a tight budget and when he and two companions from Cambridge wanted to tour Europe, it was decided they should travel by bicycle and camp in a small tent. His two companions had Raleigh three-speed bikes, but Scott-Park’s was his mother’s pre-war “sit up and beg” type, so he had no gears to assist him despite the fact they were averaging between 70 and 90 miles a day.

Their route took them across northern France into Switzerland and to Lake Como, Milan and Nice, all for £25 a head.

In the tribute given by him at the funeral service, conducted by the Rev Liz O’Ryan, in St Mungo’s Scottish Episcopal Church in Alexandria, Dunbartonshire, his son, David, told the congregation he was often seen out on his grandfather’s penny farthing bicycle.

He said there was the time when the late Tom Weir, the television personality who was a neighbour in Gartocharn, brought to the farm a couple of his mountaineering pals who were introduced to the penny farthing. They just happened to be the New Zealander Edmund Hillary, and the Nepalese Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, who became the first to reach the summit of Mount Everest.

“I think they feared more for their lives on this machine than on any mountain,” said David.

Hill walking, camping, cycling and boating were all part of the Scott-Park lifestyle and he and his wife Myrtle he went on cycling holidays into their 80s. When camping became too much for them they yielded to the temptation of B&Bs. Latterly, when his balance deteriorated and he was unable to ride a bicycle, Scott-Park bought a tricycle.

Skiing was another of his passions which he continued into his 70s with regular trips to Andorra. Just when the family thought he that he had hung up his skis, he was spotted testing them – despite being in recovery from a fractured hip – on a snow-covered field at Portnellan.

Scott-Park spent 63 years at Portnellan Farm, where he met Myrtle, who had come to ask him if he had a piece of land where she could graze her horse. Jock secured not just a wife but a lifelong partner and farm secretary all at once. They were married in 1956.

Portnellan had been a mixed farm in 1952 with a bit of everything – cereals, cows, pigs, sheep and hens.

Twenty years later, he decided that the future of Portnellan lay in dairying and a milking parlour, cubicles and slurry store were constructed and the family continued dairying until five years ago.

Scott-Park had a longstanding interest in diet and nutrition and completed a paper on the subject a few days before his death. It interest influenced the way he farmed: ammonium nitrate fertiliser was replaced with calcium nitrate and pesticides and he stopped using herbicides. By this stage Portnellan was well on the way to being organic and went on to become certified as such in 2001.

Scott-Park was never afraid to voice his views when it came to diet and nutrition and was a staunch supporter of the McCarrison Society and its work promoting a healthy diet.

More recently, Scott-Park took an interest in the renovation of the Old Farmhouse at Portnellan and considered the project had been completed so well that he decided he would like to move in. It was a little ironic that on the day it was officially opened for the first guests, he was taken by ambulance to hospital in Paisley.

Scott-Park will be missed by many on Loch Lomondside and 
beyond. He contributed a great deal in so many ways to his various communities and his wise counsel was always valued.

He was involved in the Gartocharn Community Council for 40 years and was its chairman for nearly 30 years. Farming was his life, however, and, amidst other roles, he sat on the Legal & Technical Committee of NFU Scotland. Other work in the community included the Loch 
Lomond and Trossachs National Park, of which he was a board member; the Health Promotion Group of the Glasgow and Clyde Health Board and St Mungo’s Church, where he was vestry member.

His coffin was piped from St Mungo’s and later to his graveside in Vale of Leven Cemetery by his son, David, and grandsons, Chris Scott-Park and Mark Bushby. Scott-Park, who was predeceased by Myrtle and son Mark, is survived by his son, David and daughter, Elizabeth Bushby, and their spouses, Freda Scott-Park and Charles Bushby and by his grandchildren.